Solar power subsidy bills under consideration would yield significant payback | Letter

The Legislature has an opportunity before it to support both a clean environment and a good economy in our state. House Bill 1048 and Senate Bill 5499 are designed to encourage the accelerated development of the solar industry in Washington.

These bills (which are identical) represent a modest effort to ‘bootstrap’ this forward-looking industry. Government expenditures are either for current operating expenses to run the government, or they represent an investment with a future return to the taxpayers. The solar subsidy that will result from the passage of these two bills is very modest, and it will result in a sizable payback. A study done by economists at Western Washington University concludes that each dollar of state support for the solar industry will result in $16-20 of added “economic activity.”

Governments subsidize many activities, including agricultural products and fossil fuels. These subsidies come in many forms: Tax deductions and exemptions, price supports, limits on environmental pollution constraints, etc. So, providing support to a young industry, like solar, is neither unusual nor inappropriate. About 3,700 Washington jobs are at stake, both in the production of solar photovoltaic panels, and in the installation of the panels throughout the state. Passing these bills will allow this industry to grow while its costs are declining. Within a short number of years, it is likely that solar will not need any economic support to be very viable.

Please call your legislators and ask them to support House Bill 1048 and Senate Bill 5499. The detail of the bills can be found at: http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1048&Year=2017. We owe it to ourselves and our children to embrace a clean air future and a healthy, growing economy.

Darrell Johnson

Bellevue

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